The British Journal of Psychiatry
Pharmacological treatment of depression in cancer patients. A placebo-controlled study of mianserin.
K van Heeringen, M Zivkov


BACKGROUND Depression has a reported mean prevalence of 24% in patients diagnosed with cancer. However, little systematic research on the efficacy of antidepressants in patients with cancer has been performed.

METHOD The efficacy and safety of mianserin were studied in 55 depressed women with breast cancer (stage I or II and without known metastases), in a randomised, double-blind, six-week, placebo-controlled study.

RESULTS Statistically significant differences in the decrease in score from baseline on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression and the number of responders, favouring mianserin, were present after 28 and 42 days of treatment. Significantly more placebo-treated patients prematurely terminated the study due to lack of efficacy while the safety profile of mianserin was similar to that of placebo.

CONCLUSIONS Treatment with mianserin resulted in a significant improvement in depressive symptoms in cancer patients, and was well tolerated.